The Chromebook is a fascinating concept that takes a moment to wrap your head around. It’s a notebook computer… kind of… but not really.
The Chromebook is like a notebook computer that does nothing except run Google Chrome. That’s it. No software, no programs, no desktop. Just Google Chrome. The logic is that you can do almost any of your common computer activities online nowadays, and save your documents via online storage solutions.
Want to write a document? Build an excel spreadsheet? Send email? You can do it all online, so why bother with a giant bulky operating system that is plagued with bugs, requires constant updates, and is subject to constant virus and trojan attacks?
By doing away with the bulky OS required by most computers (and undoubtedly a lot of the computing power that goes with them) the Chomebook picks up some hefty advantages: the Chromebook supposedly starts up from dead in mere seconds — rather than minutes. In fact the Acer Chromebook reports an 8 second boot time. I think we can all agree that is about a billionty times better than any other notebook.
There are no updates to download that require constant restarting of the notebook whether you want it to or not — updates download and apply in the background. And Google says that on a full battery you can actually use your Chomebook all day long, rather than only a couple or a handful of hours.
The Chromebook seems to take the viewpoint that the way current computers work — storing and running programs locally on its own hard drive, is archaic and soon to be antiquated. Instead focus on a computer that does the only the thing you need it to do — access online information and applications — and do that incredibly well.
Chromebook Ahead of Its Time?
I think the Chomebook is a fascinating idea, but as a mainstream replacement for a laptop or notebook, I think it may be just a bit ahead of its time. On the Google blog, Google talks about how almost any application that is currently software that needs to be installed on your computer could soon become a web application — something that you access online via your browser, or perhaps as a browser extension.
And it may be true that it’s coming soon… but right now it’s just not yet the case. I was thinking of my own netbook, which I use primarily for web-related stuff. But still, on my netbook I have Skype (a program that must be installed), and I have numerous folders for storing documents for future reference or to pass along to other people.
Sure, I can view a PDF online, but we all know how long it takes to open each page of a PDF online and how slowly browsing them can be. I much prefer to just save those to my computer and read them without the load times every time I want to open it. And then I can easily attach it to emails, or open it in Acrobat and edit it before resending it. Or use the CutePDF program so that I can print any document to a PDF to send it to others. And I’ve yet to see any online Excel replacement that is remotely as fast or easy as actually using excel installed on my machine.
Right now I think Chromebook is a cool idea with a lot of potential, but it’s really the equivalent of a tablet in terms of functionality, albeit faster and less annoying.
We were talking about the Chromebook in the Ecreative Internet Marketing office this morning, and I think Michelle summed it up rather well: “I think once you had it and used it every day, you’d really quickly discover how annoying it was not to have a computer on your computer.”